March 10, 2005 at 9:11 a.m.
Willhite, Salokar and Sill have also gone to State together for the past three years. This accomplishment is remarkable considering the fact that each section only sends four divers to State each year.
Chisago Lakes diving coach Lisa Willhite was effusive in her praise of her three senior divers.
“These guys have been friends and teammates for a long time,” said Willhite. “I’ve watched them for over six years. Not one time have I ever seen them act as other than friends and teammates and not competitors. They’re always there for each other to pat each other on the back; if one falters, the others pick him up. They’ve always been friends first – to me means more than anything. They’re a neat group of boys. In other sports you see rivalries, teammates fighting against each other, but that’s never happened with these three.”
Willhite, who just finished her tenth year as boys diving coach and 11th year as girls diving coach for the Wildcats, knows what she’s talking about. And when summing them up, several individual differences come to mind. Maybe the fact that they’re so different is what makes this group so special.
“They’re all different, both in and out of the pool. Brian is the straight one – he keeps them all on an even keel. Jeremy is the joker of the group. And Adam is the thinker, the introspective one – he can sum up the results of a competition in one or two words,” remarked Willhite. “As for their diving styles, Brian has great form and a great sense of where he is or what he’s doing in the air. Jeremy can jump a mile high. And Adam twists like the wind. They all go about their business differently, but each one of them gets the job done. And all of them have attributes that make them very good divers. At the end of a tournament, they were all usually sitting up at the top somewhere.”
Last weekend- their final weekend- the coach and the divers got together as a team for what they called One Last Time at a hotel near the site of the state competition. It was more than a state diving meet this time around.
“We came down here to spend a weekend together, have fun and see what happens,” said Willhite, the mother of Brian Willhite. “So even though the powers that be didn’t give us the outcome we were looking for, we still had fun.”
While the three divers were also disappointed in their tournament results, they looked back positively on their six years together. Brian Willhite remarked, “I’ve really enjoyed diving with these two. They are best friends you can have.
They’re awesome guys.” Salokar added, “It’s been a lot of fun to compete against each other.”
And Sill said “Diving with these two has made it a lot more interesting and fun.”
All three of the boys plan to dive in college. Willhite is leaning toward the Air Force Academy, where the diving coach has recruited him. Salokar and Sill are still trying to decide where they will go to college.
So what about the future of Wildcat boys diving now that these highly successful seniors are gone? Lisa Willhite remarked slyly, “you never know. I’ve got some in my back pocket that no one’s ever seen – or actually in my back yard. I’m thinking we’ll reload just fine.
Back yard? Willhite referred to her backyard because of the diving pool it contains.
“The diving pool allows us to have more practice time,” remarked Willhite. “There’s too much competition for the pool at the high school. We’re able to practice four days a week all summer long. We’re able to compete with other programs and learn our new dives in summer, so we’re ready to go when season starts.”
And back pocket?
“We’ve got some new divers coming up coming up that no one’s ever seen, since only four divers per team dive at each meet,” smiled Willhite. “We’ll reload just fine.”
The Wildcats already have one diver that other teams are aware of – eighth-grader Andy Willhite, Brian’s brother. He finished seventh at sections this year, with five seniors – including his three teammates – in front of him.
Lisa Willhite concluded confidently, “We’re not going away.”
And that certainly looks to be the case.
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